Genesis ii. 25.

June 25, 2010

And they were both naked: to wit, Adam and his wife: and were not ashamed.

25. “And they were both naked, and were not ashamed.”

St. Augustine: “They were naked, and were not ashamed – not because their nakedness was unknown to them, but because nakedness was not yet shameful; for lust did not yet move their members against their will; their flesh was not yet giving a sort of witness against them, accusing their disobedience by its own disobedience” (De civitate Dei, XIV. xvii.).

And they were not ashamed: for why should they be ashamed, when they had felt no law in their members fighting against the law of their mind?[1] Those punishments followed after the perpetration of the transgression, when they seized the forbidden fruit by disobedience, and justice punished their crime.  But before this happened, they were naked, as was said, and they were not confused: there was no movement in their bodies of which they ought to have been ashamed; they did not think anything needed to be covered, because they had felt nothing that needed to be restrained” (De Genesi ad litteram, X. i. 3.  Cf. St. Bede, In Principium Genesis, col. 52-53.).

St. Thomas: “Clothes are necessary to man in this present state of misery, for two reasons: first, because of vulnerability to exterior harms – think of intemperate heat or cold; second, to cover his disgrace, lest the shamefulness of those members appear in which the rebellion of the flesh against the spirit is made particularly manifest.  But these two reasons did not exist in the first state.  For in that state, man’s body could not be harmed by anything external, as has been said; nor in that state was there any shamefulness in man’s body which might bring on confusion: whence it is said, And they were both naked, to wit, Adam and his wife, and they were not ashamed” ST. IIa-IIae q. clxiv. a. ii. ad 8.).

The condition of the human race in the state of innocence.

a. Personal inequality

St. Thomas: “The things that are of God, are ordained, or ordered.[2] Now order is seen to consist most of all in inequality; for Augustine says, ‘order is the disposition of equal and unequal things according to their proper places.’  Therefore, in the primitive state, which was most becoming, inequality would have been found … It is necessary to say that there was some inequality in the primitive state, at least with regard to sex, because without difference of sex there would have been no generation.  Likewise also with regard to age, for some would have born from others; and those who did not give birth were barren.  But there was also difference according to the soul, both with regard to justice and with regard to knowledge.  For man did not work of necessity, but by free will; from which it is possible for a man to apply his soul in a greater or smaller degree to something that is to be done or willed or known.  Whence some would have progressed in justice and knowledge more than others.  And also on the part of the body, there would have been difference … Inequality would however have existed in such a way that there would have been no defect in those who were excelled; neither sin, nor any defect of body or soul” (ST. Ia q. xcvi. a. iii.).

b. Social inequality.

“Rule, or mastership, is understood in two ways.  In the first way, according to that which is placed against slaves, and thus someone to whom one is subordinated as a slave is called a master.  In the other way, rule is understood as generally referring to any kind of subjection, and in this way even he who has the office of governing and directing free men can be called a master.  Now in the first way of understanding rule, man would not have ruled man in the state of innocence; but in the second way of understanding rule, man could have ruled over man in the state of innocence … Someone rules a free man, when the ruler directs him to the proper good of the one being directed, or to the common good.  And this kind of rule over man would have existed in the state of innocent, for two reasons.  First, because man is by nature a social animal, whence men would have lived socially in the state of innocence.  But the social life of many could not exist, unless someone were to govern it, who could direct it to the common good; for the many, in themselves, strive after many things, but the one strives after one thing.  Secondly, because if one man possessed wisdom and justice superior to that of another, it would have been unfitting if this were not used for the advantage of others” (ibid., a. iv.).

c. Generation

“It is said in Gen. i. 28, Increase and multiply, and fill the earth.  Now multiplication of this sort could not have existed without new generation, since only two were created at first.  Therefore in the primitive state there would have been generation.”

“In the state of innocence there would have been generation for the multiplication of the human race; otherwise sin would have been very necessary to man, for it would have led to so great a good.”

“Generation in the state of innocence, even if it would not have existed for the conservation of the species, would nevertheless have existed for the increase of individuals” (ibid., q. xcviii. a. i; a. i. ad 2.).

d. Generation by intercourse, controlled by reason, with greater pleasure than after sin.

“Before sin, God made man and woman, as is said in the first two chapters of Genesis.  Now nothing is without reason in the works of God.  Therefore even if man had not sinned, there would have been intercourse, to which the distinction of the sexes is ordered.”

“Our first parents did not have intercourse in paradise because only a short time after the woman was formed, they were banished from paradise because of their sin; or else because they were waiting for the proper time of their intercourse to be determined by the divine authority, by which they had received the general command.

“Man becomes like a beast in intercourse in this way, in that he is not able to moderate the pleasure of intercourse and the ardor of concupiscence with reason.  But in the state of innocence there would have existed nothing of this sort that could not have been moderated by reason: not because the sensual pleasure would have been less, as some say (indeed sensible pleasure would have been so much the greater, as nature was more pure and the body more sensible); but because the concupiscent force would not have thus inordinately poured out concerning pleasure of this sort, regulated by reason; which does not mean that sensual pleasure would have been less, but that the concupiscent force  would not have inhered to pleasure without moderation; and I say without moderation, that is, apart from the measure of reason.  In the same way a temperate person does not have less pleasure in food taken in moderation than does a glutton, but his concupiscence rests less over a pleasure of this sort.  And this is what Augustine says, that it was not intensity of pleasure that was excluded from the state of innocence, but the fire of lust and restlessness of soul.  And therefore continence in the state of innocence would not have been laudable, because it is praised at this time, not because of the lack of fecundity, but because of the removal of inordinate desire.  At that time fecundity would have existed without lust” (ibid. a. ii; a. ii. ad 2, ad 3.).

e. Utter blessedness.

St. Augustine: “Now what were those two able to fear or lament in such a profusion of so many good things: where death was not feared, nor was any indisposition of the body; where there was nothing at all that a good will might not obtain, nor anything that might upset the body or soul of the one living happily?  Their love was in God, undisturbed, and also between the two of them, in the mutual trust of husband and wife and in the harmony of their lives, and from this love came great joy, and what was loved in enjoyment did not cease.   There was tranquil avoidance of sin, and as long as this lasted, no evil whatsoever, from any source, intruded that could distress them … The whole human race would have been so happy, if no iniquitous evil that would be passed down to their descendants and would receive condemnation had been committed by them or by any of their race; and this happiness would have endured, until, by the blessing increase and multiply, the number of the predestined saints had been fulfilled; and then greater things would have been given to them, which had already been given to the most blessed Angels: a place where there would then be complete certainty that no one would ever sin, and that no one would ever die; and the life of the saints would have been such, after no experience of labor, sorrow, or death, as it will be now after all these things, in the bestowing of incorrupt bodies in the resurrection of the dead” (De civitate Dei, XIV. x.).


[1] Cf. Rom. vii. 23: But I see another law in my members, fighting against the law of my mind …

[2] Rom. xiii. 1.  Quæ a Deo sunt, ordinata sunt.

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